We’ve never been huge fanboys of the Samsung Note series of products. That’s mainly because the things that Samsung charges for are things that we here don’t usually use all that much, and for the prices they offer, they seem to be a bit high to justify. However, we’re still cool on the series of Samsung’s lineups.
I guess by now most of you have all seen the leaks on the Note 9, and maybe you were impressed, and maybe you weren’t. We were not jumping out of our skins for this device by any means. Just by looking at the specs you can see that’s it more of a slight bump up in performance compared to the generation before. That’s pretty typical for the Note line. However, this year feels a little more boring than usual.
If you’re looking at the paper specs it’s a cool phone, but nothing really jumps out at you as being something really interesting. That being said, after spending a day with it, it turns out to be kind of a pretty tight phone.
The biggest change we see is the battery size, it’s about 20% bigger than it was earlier and for me, that’s a huge bump in the right direction. The Note 8 had a 3300 mAh battery and the 9 has a 4000 mAh battery. Here in North America, we don’t see batteries that big. Sure, in Asia you’re able to find 10,000 and 20,000 mAh battery phones, but they are super thick.
The other interesting thing about this phone was the new DeX feature. Samsung has had this thing for a couple years now where you can plug your phone into a dock and then you can use it as a computer. To me, it was always kind of useless since you need a proprietary dock for it and it just didn’t really make sense from a usability standpoint. Now, however, this new version allows you to use a USB-C cable directly into the phone and that’ll activate the DeX on the screen. Side note, this is with a USB-C enabled monitor, but if you don’t have one you can still use a USB-C to HDMI adapter to get the same results.
Now, in terms of usability and practicality of DeX, it feels a lot better now because of the cable input, but we still don’t find it compelling enough for most people. The idea is really cool; got to admit that, but if you have access to a Note you probably have access to a laptop or some other computing device.
This year it supposedly has a new thermal system that they are calling “Water Carbon Cooling” which sounds hokey-pokeyish, and when tested against an S9 the differences were nominal at best. Both systems have decent cooling. Maybe this has something to do with Samsung and Fortnight relationship. Furthermore, when playing Fortnight on it, it doesn’t feel all the great. If you’re looking for a phone to do your gaming on then you should be looking into the Razer phone.
The other thing that they are showing off pretty heavily is the new pen with Bluetooth support for charging and use as a remote control. You can take super cool selfies with it as a remote control, but that’s about it. It’s not something that you’re going to use regularly unless you’re a THOT on Instagram or something.
This Note has also been upgraded with massive amount of storage. You can get up to 512GB. So that’s available if you want it.
Overall, I feel like this phone has had some very iterative and small changes. But, if you take a step back and you look at what this phone is, it is really the most powerful and feature-packed Android phone on the market right now. For that, you got to give Samsung some credit. The phone looks good, the screen looks really good and is quite similar to the S9+ screen in terms of image quality and it’s just a well-rounded phone that unfortunately costs $1,000. This is where you need to pick apart the justification of this price-point. Paying $1,000 for any kind of phone right now is crazy. You can get an S9+ or Note 8 for around $600 and get very similar usability. One-thousand dollars for the Note 9 feels really, really steep.
These prices say something about the phone industry right now. Apple stores sell iPhone X for over $1000. The fact that Samsung is doing this much marketing and this much work to promote a phone that is a relatively minor and iterative change from the previous generation just kind of shows us where we are right now in the phone industry. We are kind of stagnated and we’re getting minor upgrades with huge sticker prices. If you’re someone that is price and value conscious, you probably want to skip this phone. Maybe wait until next year’s S10.